Thousands of people flooded downtown streets early Wednesday morning to celebrate their team's victory in the NBA championships, amid shouts and cheers and a spirit of boisterous excitement.

"We're not looting, we're not fighting, we're not doing anything but enjoying our win," said Barbara Word of Detroit.

She appeared to embody the enthusiasm of the crowds along Woodward Avenue in the heart of the city, where people showed up in Pistons shirts to shout their delight in the victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Some of those at the scene took pains to point out that while the celebration may have been joyous and raucous, it also appeared to be nonviolent. In recent years championship games in many cities have been followed by outbreaks of vandalism.

When the Pistons last won the championship in 1990, the Associated Press reported, seven deaths were linked to celebrations of the victory, including six people who were struck by cars. In addition, dozens of people were reportedly wounded by shootings, stabbings and fighting.

In the first hour after the Pistons' triumph in the fifth game of the championship series, there was no indication that matters were getting out of hand.

"Despite what the national media says," said Assistant Police Chief Harold M. Cureton, "we are not uncivilized." Cureton griped that the media sometimes try to portray Detroit as a "Third World country." But, he said, "we are not."

It may have been noisy, but Cureton said, "everything tonight has been very peaceful."

Announcements made at the game, held in suburban Auburn Hills, reportedly asked the fans for moderation in their celebrations.

Among those in the downtown crowd last night was 14-year-old Dennis Spence, who was there with his family from west Detroit.

After watching the game, he said, "We just came here to celebrate."

People wearing the royal-blue-and-red colors of the Pistons exchanged high fives with passersby, screaming and shouting. Frances McGill showed up in her Pistons jersey bearing the name of Ben Wallace. A firetruck, posted in the downtown area, honked its horn and sounded its siren.

Large crowds were also reported in Royal Oak, about 10 miles north of downtown. AP reported that mounted police were trying to disperse the crowd, which blocked traffic at times.

Weil reported from Washington.